Monday, February 24, 2014

The Biggest Week of My Mission Life

Leaving Chiang Mai.
This week was absolutely crazy, family. So let's just dive in.

Monday night I found out I was moving. It was kind of a shock to everyone but me. Everyone expected me to stay in Chiang Mai to finish training Sister Woodbury, but on Monday afternoon I just suddenly knew that I was leaving. I just knew. So on Tuesday we said all our goodbyes and on Wednesday we got on a bus and went to Bangkok for transfers meeting on Thursday! Pretty much everyone in our district got moved. Elder Nirut and Sister Woodbury were the only two to stay in Chiang Mai (and the Ures, the senior couple). There was crazy whitewashing all over the whole mission. 

So transfers meeting. After being on a bus for 12987359823 hours, we were running a little late to the transfers meeting. To the point that I didn't even have a chance to change from my travel outfit...which included a sweatshirt and fluffy cheetah socks. So that was good. Sister Woodbury and I piled out of our taxi will all my junk and Elder Barfuss, always so full of tact, looks at me and says, "What are you, sick or something?" Ha. Don't worry, I did change and managed to look presentable for the meeting.

But the best part of transfers meeting...when I got out of the taxi, after Elder Barfuss complimented me so highly, I saw my girls Ploy and Jeep waiting for me in the parking lot. We hugged each other and cried and it was so so wonderful. Ploy gave me a Bible :) I couldn't stop hugging them. It was such a perfect moment, me in my sweatshirt and fluffy socks, Ploy and Jeep looking so cute and put together, all loving each other. 

So at the transfers meeting, President called me aside and asked to speak to me for a minute. He told me where I was going and said, "This will be a special assignment. We have some Thai missionaries who will be entering the mission in a few weeks and we aren't sure where they will all be going. I don't know how long you will be in your new area, you may be heading back to Chiang Mai after a few weeks; you may be staying." I asked him if he was saying I shouldn't unpack my bags. He responded with a "That's a good question." And then transfers meeting began.

So many missionaries went home after their two years this transfer. Elder Creer, Elder Campbell, Elder Engle, Elder Cox...there were 18 in total. Crazy, huh?

After all the announcements and singing "Called to Serve" and all that wonderful jazz, I was assigned to serve in LAMPANG! I moved an hour away from Chiang Mai. Haha. And I'm with Sister Packard! She and I did a switch off a couple weeks ago and we both said to each other, "Man, it would be fun to be companions some day." Haha! And here we are, companions. Sister Woodbury is companions with Sister Reedy, who was previously in Lampang. We literally just switched places haha. We should have just left all our luggage up north!

Other MASSIVE news from our transfers meeting. Myanmar now has two proselyting missionaries. As in—Myanmar is now open for missionary service. This is huge. This is the biggest news ever. There have not been missionaries in Burma since Levi Savage was called to the South East Asia mission in the 1800s. Everyone was so silent and so shocked and the room was full of static electricity. No one was breathing when President Senior made the announcement. I still get the chills thinking about it.

We spent the night in Bangkok at Sister Painter and Sister Croft's apartment. We died on their couch and floor and slept so hard. Traveling all night as a missionary takes it out of you. Friday was the Sisters Conference and there were so many answered prayers that day from all the talks and all the messages that were shared. It was so fun to be with all of the sisters that I love. It was an amazing meeting.

And after that, we took another bus back up north to Lampang where I currently am typing this lovely email. Sister Packard and I got in at 4 in the morning on Saturday. Death. Haha. We have had such an amazing first couple of days already. There have been two baptisms (one for the elders on Saturday and one for us yesterday!), a member who hasn't come to church in years deciding that it is time to come back, and the cutest little horse buggies all over the town. We live in the basement of a member's home, which is kind of the best thing ever, and we have a beautiful garden out back where I get to eat my breakfast every morning. I love Lampang because it reminds me so much of home. The church has about 30 to 40 members who come every week and we don't even have an official church building, we have a house that has been converted into a church. The baptismal font is outside in the backyard.

So with all of the stuff that went on this week, I just want you all to know that I am so happy right now. I am in a wonderful place with the best companion and I am so excited to be here. Being a missionary is great :)

I love you!!

Sister Hughes

Our district at our last district meeting. We wore black because Elder Cox was "dying."  
My English class.  : D
Eating at "Grandma's” the last time. We love this restaurant, the little older lady calls me "daughter" and scolded me
when I wouldn't finish all my rice and would praise me when I did. Hence the name "Grandma's.”   :  )
In front of the church in Chiang Mai.
Leaving for the bus station; with Sister Ant and Sister Joy.
Rii and Pang  ; )
With Sisters Woodbury, Slaugh, Ng and Catherina
Everyone seeing us off at the bus station.  :' ) 
Elder Nirut and Elder Wheeler on the bus. haha
Brother Benz and Brother Ote wearing sister missionary name tags. haha. Both are preparing to be missionaries.  : )
ME WITH MY GIRLS!!! In both my travel outfit and in my nice outfit. ha

Sister Weed!  : ) 
Me and my MTC companions.
Elder Astle and Elder Hill laughing; this photo brings me more joy than I can even begin to tell anyone. hahahahahaha. 
Me and Sister Zaugg! She is opening an area for sisters in Nong Kai, up on the Laos border!
Me and Sister Packard at the bus station.
Valentine's package from home!!  : D
How I knew it would be a good tarnsfer: my district leader keeps a harmonica in his shirt pocket. 
Sister Maw got baptized!
Sister Gan got baptized! Isn't she so cute?!
Gan's baptism; everyone all together.
With Sister Packard, Sister Boomi (in plaid), Sister Bun, Brother Ford is the 18 year old and Brother Sombat is in the glasses.
I love these people so much already! 
My house in Lampang. : )
My garden. : )

Monday, February 17, 2014

On Becoming Myself. And Protection from Samurais.

The only photo I can send, hence the grumpy faces. Doi Pui.
Here's another week of me telling more insights than stories. I hope that's okay. Lots of good stuff happened this week, like our 16 year old investigator Tad announcing she had found more answers reading 2 Nephi 2 than in a lifetime of going to a Protestant church, and finding a woman whose car broke down in front of the church who wants to get baptized. But more on her later.

I am not going to lie. I feel like this transfer has been the hardest time of my mission. Not because I am training, not because I am in a position of a lot of responsibility, not because I don't love where I am. I feel like it is the hardest because I have seen all the things I need to change about myself.

But I had this thought the other morning. We lived with God before we came to this earth and He prepared a plan for each one of us to become like He is. So really, when I am changing my will to become His will and when I am changing my actions to be more like Christ's actions...I am actually becoming. I am becoming more like myself because I am becoming what God has always intended for me to become. It makes the painful process of changing worth it.

Last P-Day we went up a mountain to a place called Doi Pui. It is a tribal village where the Hmong people live. They don't really have much. They all have tin roofs and there is no electricity. But they have beautiful gardens and they have a little tiny museum about the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. It's pretty cool. We got to dress up in traditional Hmong clothing.

We also had a blast in English. We teach 2 monks named Non and Mike in the advanced class. They speak REALLY good English and they are hilarious. I have a video of them singing "Dream Big" from Monsters University, but sadly I can't send it home because the file is too large.

Fun fact, on Saturday when Sister Woodbury and I went contacting, I literally spoke in French the entire time. I kept running into people who needed help with directions or who recognized us as the "Mormon missionaries" and had questions. It was lots of fun, but my brain hurt afterwards haha.

Yesterday evening after church, Sister Woodbury and I walked out through the parking lot and there was a woman who was having her car jump-started at the gate of the church. We invited her to leave her car running and charging in the parking lot while we introduced the church and its teachings to her. She told us that Buddhism has been her whole life. She would spend weeks at a time in meditation when she was younger. But she has reached a point in her life where she isn't sure what that has actually done anything for her and she was ready to see what Christianity had to offer. We took her into the chapel and began telling her about what happens on Sundays when she told us to stop. She said (in English; she used to teach English and refused to respond in Thai), "What is happening to me? What am I feeling? There is electricity all through my body and in my heart and coming through my face!" We told her it was the Holy Ghost and she asked us to tell her everything about the gospel of Jesus Christ. About feeling the Spirit, she said: "I feel like if I were walking in the middle of a Samurai war, I would be protected in a little bubble. They could come at me with their swords and try to chop my neck, but I know I would be okay."( I particularly enjoyed that description of the Holy Ghost.)

Unfortunately she doesn't live in our area, so we introduced her to Elder Wood and Elder Cox who were at the church. There happened to be a member present so they taught her and she is going to get baptized on the 8th.

And that was pretty much the week. It was a good one. Tonight we are going to have dinner with the Ures, the senior couple in Chiang Mai, as a celebration of the transfer. Elder Cox will be going home this week (if he doesn't get his extension...) so they want to have a little party for him. It should be fun. We will all be going to Bangkok on Wednesday for the transfers meeting on Thursday morning. The sisters are having a conference together on Friday and it will be great. All 50 of the sister missionaries will be together. I have no idea if I will be staying or leaving. It will be a huuuuuuge transfers meeting—we have 18 of our zone leaders and district leaders who are all done with their missions this transfer so everything is getting changed up. So next week I may be emailing you from somewhere else! We'll just see what happens!

I love you!!!!

Sister Hughes

Quotes of the Week

Sister Slaugh: " fast can you run in a Hmong outfit?"

Elder Cox: "Now I feel bad for laughing because Grandma Toot died." (There was a little old grandma who lived next door to the elders that they lovingly named "Toot" because she always tooted really loudly.)

Me, yelling out the side of a Song taew: "Elder Wood! BIKE-LE Your helmet....." Oops.

Elder Wood: Well at least she didn't go to Ire-lish!
Me: Go to Ireland?
E W: Yeah. Or try to speak Ireland.
Me: Irish?
Elder Wood: I'm going home now.

Elder Nirut: "Your cake in there, I ate it, I was hungry."

Monday, February 10, 2014

“Always Read the Book of Mormon LOUDLY” —Sister Imelda

Dearest Family,

I can't brain today, I have the dumb. I'm sorry if this letter is scattered and all over the place.

This past week for P-Day, we went to the Tiger Kingdom and cuddled with tigers of all sizes, which was very exciting. I am obsessed with baby tigers. I think I want one for a pet.

We also had lots of teaching appointments this week, which was great. We had lots of Recent Convert lessons, which was fun. We also had plans to meet with a member named Laika who has been less active for over 20 ish years. We were going to meet with her at Sister Imelda's house. Both are from the Philippines and so sweet and wonderful. But...Laika ended up not being able to come because she got a new job. So we met with Sister Imelda and had a really wonderful meeting with her. She told us her AMAZING conversion story. Typing it out would not do it justice. I may just have to tell the story myself when I get home. Just know that she was prepared by the Lord and she loves Him and loves the Book of Mormon. She counsels her children to always "Read the Book of Mormon loudly." I got to thinking about that this week. Reading the Book of Mormon loudly. What exactly does that mean? When she was telling her kids to read, she meant out loud to each other. But I think there's more meaning to it than that. I think it means not being ashamed of who we are or what we stand for and not being afraid to tell people about the Book of Mormon. I wrote Sister Imelda's advice on one of my 2139875329871243 post it notes that I got for Christmas and stuck it on the wall next to my desk.

On Thursday we had switch-offs with Sisters Reedy, Packard, and Sumittra. I went with Sister Packard and Sister Sumittra and we went contacting all day long. Seriously.

In other news, all of the sisters in our house have a that has been fun. Hooray for sharing germs! Haha.

Also, this wonderful investigator of mine, Tan, is getting baptized. She's wonderful. :)

So that was my week. Much love to you all!!!!

Sister Hughes

Contacting with Sister Sumittra and Sister Packard.
tiiger kingdom!